- Ever since the 1970’s, philosophers of mind have engaged in a lively discussion of Externalism. Externalism is the metaphysical thesis that the contents of one’s thoughts are determined partly by empirical features of one’s environment. Externalism appears to clash with another plausible thesis — the epistemological thesis that one can have knowledge of one’s own thoughts, without evidence or empirical investigation. Many have argued that the conjunction of these theses is incompatible. I have argued elsewhere for their compatibility. Here I’ll just assume that they are compatible and explore some consequences of conjoining a particular externalist thesis about the contents of thoughts (Social Externalism) with a particular thesis about self-knowledge (First-Person Authority).
- First, I formulate Social Externalism as a thesis that has very broad application and then formulate First-Person Authority as a thesis that has somewhat less broad application. I call the conjunction of these two theses ‘First-Person Externalism’. I argue that First-Person Externalism is philosophically rich and suggest that it delivers us from two philosophical snares: the threat of solipisism and the threat of global skepticism.
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